SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Job 38:1 through 42:17
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” (Job 42:5)
In the lengthy dialogue between Job and his friends, recorded in chapters 4 through 37, Job had frequently expressed his longing to have God respond to his questions. In these chapters, Job’s wish was granted and God’s silence was broken, though not in the manner Job had expected.
By refraining from cursing God at the loss of his loved ones, health, and material advantages, Job had disproved Satan’s contention that he would not serve God without reward. By persisting in his assertion that sin and suffering are not linked in a cause-and-effect sequence, he had silenced his friends’ accusations. However, in defending his own integrity, he had questioned the integrity of God and characterized Him as being unjust. He felt God had not been consistent in His moral jurisdiction of the world, and that God had an unjustifiable enmity against him.
Job seemed to presume that his own finite mind could comprehend and even challenge the infinite mind of God. It was this presumption that God addressed in His approach to Job, chiding him for his empty words about a subject far beyond his knowledge. With poetic beauty, God presented Job with a series of hard questions related to His work as the Creator of the universe.
Job’s repentance and submission concluded the dialogue between God and Job, and the final verses of the narrative (Job 42:7-17) record the restoration of Job — an inspiring conclusion to this account of true worship and integrity in the face of extreme adversity.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- In chapters 38 and 39, God referred to the grandeur of creation, and by implication pointed to the power and wisdom of the One who could create such a universe. In one or two sentences, summarize the essence of the questions that God asked Job in chapter 38. Why do you think God said what He did and why in this tone?
Class summary should bring out that God’s series of questions were pointed toward helping Job understand where he stood in relation to God. In effect, God was saying, “Who do you think you are, challenging God himself?”
In response to the second question, lead your group to conclude that God was trying to help Job understand that if he could not explain the conditions of nature, how could he question the God who controls these conditions? If nature was beyond his grasp, God’s purposes could well be hidden also. The human mind cannot comprehend or understand the reason for suffering. Job needed to grasp that the real question was not why he suffered, but Whom he trusted.
- God spoke of very broad topics such as creating the earth (Job 38:4-7), but also of details of creation such as clouds and rain (Job 38:37-38). What does this tell us about God, and how does this help the Christian have hope?
Class response should center on the thought that God is not only powerful and awesome, but He is also concerned and aware of the tiniest details of our lives. Though He commands the universe, nothing about our personal lives is too insignificant for Him to care about. You may wish to reference Psalm 139 to amplify this point.
- Throughout his trial, Job often complained about God’s seemingly unjust treatment of him. In Job 40:2, God asked him, “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him?” How do we bring our cares to God without lapsing into complaining about our circumstances?
Help your class evaluate the difference between bringing our needs and petitions to God, and simply complaining and expressing discontent regarding our circumstances. Some points to consider: With what “tone” do we bring our needs to God? Do we accompany our requests with praise and thanksgiving? Are we willing to accept that God may not always explain “why”? Do we truly believe He has our best interests at heart? Your class should be led to conclude that no matter what comes our way, we can be assured God is working all things together for our good.
- Job had been so absorbed in his terrible trial that he overlooked the revelation of God which is apparent in every part of the universe. God’s eloquent speech and series of questions in chapters 38 and 39 hit their mark. According to Job 40:3-5, how did Job respond to God’s question in the preceding verses? What does his response tell us about Job’s spirituality?
Job was awestruck by God’s pronouncements, and clearly recognized the presumptuousness revealed by his questioning of God. He put his hand over his mouth, vowing not to contend with God any further.
Your class should conclude that Job’s response showed humility, respect to God, and submission. Discuss why these qualities, and any others your class may bring out, are important virtues in the Christian life.
- While Job had a new understanding of his insignificance compared to the majesty of God, God was not yet finished. In Job 40:6 through 41:34, He again spoke out of the whirlwind, challenging Job to demonstrate his power if he thought he was equal to the Omnipotent Creator. God had spoken glowingly of Job in Job 1:8 and 2:3, so what did Job mean when he responded by saying he would “repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6)?
Job saw he should not have questioned God, and openly and honestly faced God and admitted he had been foolish. “Repent” in this case means a complete turnaround from the former perception. Job was not asking forgiveness for sins, but for questioning God’s sovereignty and justice. He recognized that he had spoken without understanding. Clearly his thinking had been transformed by his personal encounter with God.
- At the conclusion of the dialogue between God and Job, God still had not answered all of Job’s questions. Should a Christian always have to know the reasons God does what He does? Why or why not?
It is natural to desire an answer, but we will not always receive one. The point should be made that although we may not understand an event or circumstance, if we are to gain spiritually rather than become embittered and confused over the lack of an explanation, we must choose to believe that the divine hand of God has permitted what has come our way. Acceptance can lead to spiritual growth instead of despair, blessing instead of bitterness.
- As we conclude our study of Job, what key lessons stand out to you from this book?
This question should provide an opportunity for a good wrap-up to the lesson. Your students will likely offer several thoughts. These may include:
• Satan may be allowed to try our faith, but He cannot proceed beyond the limits God sets.
• Serving God does not guarantee a life without trials.
• Prosperity is not a sign of God’s favor.
• It is vital to trust God even when circumstances might tempt us to doubt.
• Suffering is not always because of sin. We should be careful not to judge others who are suffering.
• We love God because of who He is, whether He allows blessings or trials to come to us.
• We must accept that we will not always understand God and His ways.
• We may experience physical, emotional, and mental symptoms as a result of extreme trials, but these do not necessarily indicate a spiritual problem.
• God’s assurance may come in a variety of ways, and it is always invaluable to our faith.
Job despaired about life when his troubles seemed the worst and God was silent. However, he refused to curse God and became an encouraging example of one who held onto God without knowing the specific end of his trial. Can we also trust God with our unanswered questions?